‘ The Devil All the Time’ is a chronologically jagged, hyperliterate mood piece with a homespun narrator device for a William Peter Blatty-esque yarn about Pentecostal extremism. The clergical image of a gunnery sergeant Miller Jones crucified in the Solomon Islands is graphically evocative but many of the backwoods horror are effigies for smarmy shock value.
The apple-pie-diner-and-Perry-Como-jukebox Americana of the 1950’s is quickly eroded by Antonio Campos. For his casting purposes, Campos has victualed from a briar patch of parvenus such as Bill Skarsgard, Tom Holland, Riley Keough and Robert Pattinson. The Bible Belt speeches about the Holy Ghost and the conquest of fears such as spiders, would be more nerve-rattling if it weren’t attenuated by formicating special effects.
As with a majority of Netflix pictures, the streaming exhibitor is too diffident about the length and leeway for Campos. Several scenes could’ve been morcellated without a sacrifice to the novel’s Minoan richness. For instance, Keough and Jason Clarke are stanchions for cuckolding pornography. One of the most assuredly chilling scenes of zealotry is when Willard (Skarsgard) dispatches his dog as on offering to God in exchange for the abolition of his wife, Charlotte’s (Haley Bennett) cancer.
The ultraviolence at the behest of the Lord (screwdriver to the neck) for Lazarus-like resuscitations would be parochial condescension to the Coal Creek hillbillies if Campos wasn’t already snickering with gallows humor at the genuflecting naivete. Preston Teagardin’s (Pattinson) sermon about the impoverished chicken livers is an example of the movie’s potential to be more than an incrimination on the priggish self-delusion of preachers.
Because of the sundry stitches along the timeline, the ensemble players are either pawns to “birthday suit” predation or wastrels themselves. The omnibus stories are visibly caracoling towards a churlish-vigilante intersection yet Campos prestidigitates them with a nihilistic, benumbed uncertainty.